English Premier League giants Chelsea FC begin their 2012 FIFA Club World Cup campaign today at the semi-final stage, meeting Monterrey of Mexico at the International Yokohama Stadium with a place in the final against Corinthians on the line.
The men from Stamford Bridge travel to Japan sitting third in the Premier League table, with new coach Rafa Benitez having joined the club after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo last month. Captain and club icon John Terry has failed to make the trip to the Far East after picking up an injury, but those Chelsea stars who did board the plane to Japan 2012 are eager and willing to take a trophy back to London with them.
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“Sure, we are probably favourites, but to me ‘favourite’ means nothing,” Spain striker Fernando Torres told FIFA.com. “The only thing it can add is more pressure for you. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're favourite or not, you have to prove it on the pitch.”
Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech was also keen to express his desire to claim the title. “Not many people can say ‘I won the Club World Cup’, the special competition of the Champions League winners. That’s something you would like to achieve so I’m looking forward to the tournament and I hope it will be a trophy we win.”
“I think we, as players, are all taking this competition very seriously. It's a very important trophy for every club and for the career of every individual” added Oscar, Chelsea’s young Brazilian sensation.
However it was Benitez, who won the world club showpiece as coach of Inter Milan 2010, who had the final word. “It will be a fantastic experience. We are concerned because we know it will be very difficult, but we are working very hard trying to organise everything properly.